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USA defence proves too strong for Italy in deciding set

Italy's Paola Cardullo being checked by the doctor after a bad fall
Macau, China, August 25, 2011 – USA outplayed Italy defensively in the deciding set (25-19, 21-25, 22-25, 25-22, 15-10) in Pool B of round robin play in the finals of the 2011 FIVB Volleyball World Grand Prix at the Macau East Asian Games Dome on Thursday.

The opening set saw tight defence from both sides which helped produce long rallies, however it was USA who got the better of these rallies as they led 8-3 into the first TTO. Both Italy’s Paola Cardullo and USA’s Destinee Hooker took bad falls in separate plays but fortunately came out ok to continue to play.

USA’s blocking left the Italians frustrated as the Americans stopped almost every attack from Simona Gioli and Francesca Piccinini. While Italy’s wing spikers struggled to get their game going, their middles Martina Guiggi and Sara Anzanello made excellent hits. But it wasn’t enough to close in on USA’s lead as Hooker continued beating the Italian defence as her side took the first set.

Italy managed to make adjustments and organise their play in the second and third set. They managed to contain the American offense with only Hooker and Jordan Larson making occasional attacks on the wings. Anzanello stepped up again for Italy and contributed some excellent middle hits to maintain the Italian lead throughout both sets. Francesca Piccinini, coming off a bad first set start, managed to find her rhythm and planted spikes on the American side.

Excellent digging from USA’s backcourt was key to the build-up of their lead in the fourth set. Hooker continued with her exploits on the Italian block sending towering spikes across to Italy. Gioli’s crucial hits on the opposite side helped bring Italy back into the set but the attack and reception faults cost the side.

Italy’s service and reception errors were massive blows to their morale allowing the Americans to take full control of the match. The Americans made excellent defensive stops and attacked flawlessly against the Italians. Megan Hodge closed the match in favour of the Americans with a block on a Gioli hit.


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